Spring is the Time for New Headstones

Winter is almost over and if you are considering a new memorial for a grave or replacing/renovating an existing one, now is a good time to do it. At Sarsfield Memorials, the oldest independent memorial mason in Liverpool headstones are the core part of our business and Spring is always a busy time for us.

Liverpool headstones

In Spring the ground is much firmer and settled providing the perfect conditions for memorial installation. As we leave the dark winter months behind us, a newly erected headstone at your loved one’s grave for the Spring and Summer provides a fitting tribute. It is somewhere where their lives can be commemorated in a perfect way, surrounded by the newly sprouted flowers. We have a wide selection of headstones available to order and examples are here. However if you do not see what you require please contact us as we can usually tailor memorials to suit your wishes.

Erecting new headstones in the winter can be problematic due to the soil being frozen or extremely soggy, making it impossible to pour the cement for the foundation. Inclement weather and the darker nights can also mean that even if you were to install a headstone in November or December, if it is a lighter coloured material it may already be in need of a clean by the time you are visiting in the warmer months.

Spring is naturally a good time to have a headstone cleaned after the battering they can take in the winter months. Even the most durable granite memorials need a clean from time to time, while the softer and lighter materials such as marble and Portland stone can become discoloured especially if they are near falling leaves.

Relatively newer headstones can sometimes be cleaned with just warm water if the right material is used to apply it. We do not recommend cleaning your your memorial yourself though as using the wrong methods can cause lasting damage, damaging the gold leaf or causing staining or chemical corrosion to softer stones. At Sarsfield Memorials we have a range of options available for repair and renovation, from a simple clean to re-gilding of inscriptions, we are always happy to share our knowledge and expertise with you at no cost, if it is something that you can do yourself.

The images on this blog page show how memorials can be made to look as good as new after a clean. If you do not live locally we will update you with progress, providing before and after photographs. If you would like to discuss the installation of a new memorial or cleaning/restoration of an existing one, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.

 

 

Utting Avenue – Sir John Utting

Utting Avenue, one of the boulevard style roads developed by Liverpool Corporation in the 1920s, is named after Sir John Utting, a doctor who was the city’s Mayor during the First World War.

Utting Avenue

Sir John was born in Norfolk in 1852. After qualifying as a surgeon he spent three years travelling abroad before settling in Liverpool in 1877, becoming a general medical practitioner in Anfield. In 1899 he was elected to the City Council as a Conservative member for the Kirkdale ward, putting great energy into serving others despite his already busy work schedule.

The three years that Utting had spent travelling made him an ideal candidate to be on the Port Sanitary Committee and Chairman of the University of Liverpool School of Hygiene. When war broke out i 1914 he joined the Reserve Medical Corps, being attached to the First Western Hospital at Fazakerley.

In 1917 Utting was released from his regiment to be Mayor of Liverpool. During a busy year as Mayor he raised £80,000 for the Red Cross and also set up the Million Shilling Relief Fund. This was established to raise funds for soldiers from Liverpool who were being held as prisoners of war in Germany.

Utting Avenue

After the war Utting became Chairman of the Finance Committee. He proved himself to be very shrewd with public funds and he always put the ratepayers’ interests first. He was knighted in 1924 and the same year it was announced that the new boulevard leading towards the corporation housing developments at Norris Green would be named Utting Avenue. 

After a brave fight against pneumonia and pleurisy Utting died on 17th February 1927 at his home St Annes Hill, Anfield Road. This no longer stands was on the site of what is now a car park for Liverpool Football Club. 

A memorial service took place at St Nicholas Church followed by a burial in Anfield Cemetery, where 5,000 watched his coffin being taken to the grave. Sadly his headstone is now lying flat with the inscription face down

Carrara marble

Carrara Marble is a white marble that is suitable both for memorial headstones and ornamentation.

Quarried in Tuscany, Italy, for over two thousand years, Carrara Marble can be seen on some of Rome’s most famous buildings.  It also forms much of the design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the largest in the world.

Carrara Marble can be engraved finely and deeply, giving a beautiful finish to inscriptions. Once incised, the letters traditionally are leaded they can be painted with equal effect to provided a high quality finish. Under the sun’s rays, Carrara Marble glistens and looks beautifully tranquil in the cemetery or graveyard, a fitting memorial over your loved one’s grave.

Carrara Marble

One thing that you must be aware of with Carrara Marble is that it is softer than many other materials used for memorials. Whereas this gives an advantage for carving, it does make it more prone to weathering especially on graves that are near to trees or hedges.

Due to its softer texture, Carrara Marble is easier to carve. Traditional Ogee shaped headstones can be enhanced by carvings of flowers or religious symbols. Alternatively it can be used for carved ornamentation such as cherubs or angels, complimenting  memorials made from other materials. Carvings from Carrara Marble can go really well with blue or grey granite memorials as the example in the image, recently completed by us, shows.

Sarsfield Memorials, Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental masons, can supply a range of Carrara Marble memorials and ornamentation. If you would like to discuss what we offer please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements. We will also of course guide you on whether this is a suitable choice of memorial depending on your grave location and be able to provide a free no obligation quote.

New Years Eve at Cemeteries in Chile

New Year traditions vary around the world. In the South American country of Chile New Years Eve is now spent by many families visiting the graves of their loved ones.

The practice is believed to have started in 1995 in the city of Talca, 158 miles south of the capital Santiago. One family climbed into the cemetery on New Years Eve to be beside the grave of their father, who had recently passed away. Rather than enforce the law, local authorities have taken the pragmatic view that it is a practice that should be encouraged rather than stopped.

Chile New Years Eve

The entrance to Talca’s General Cemetery

Cemetery gates now remain open, with families commemorating their deceased members in various ways. For some it is a case of being by the graveside in quiet reflection, while others like to have bring something to eat and drink. To add some warmth and light, small fires are sometimes lit. Its not a case of going home when finished either, as many will then sleep by the graveside until daylight in temperatures that are not uncomfortable due to it being summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Those that undertake this Chile New Years Eve tradition believe it is a key part of the bereavement process. They feel it can bring luck in the new year and also helps the souls of the deceased, making them at peace knowing they have been visited at this special time. It brings a sense of reunification with their loved ones and helps rekindle the notion that life is valuable and needs to be enjoyed.

It is estimated nowadays that 5,000 families undertake this tradition, in a city of around 200,000 inhabitants. Talca is famous for being where Bernardo O’Higgins signed the Declaration of Independence in 2018, freeing Chile from Spanish rule. Traditionally tourists have visited due to it being a wine producing region and its role in the Catholic church in Chile. However it is also slowly developing a reputation for this unique New Years Eve tradition.

 

 

 

Customer Feedback

As Christmas approaches, its a time to reflect on the year gone by. We are Liverpool’s oldest family run monumental mason business and we have continued to get great satisfaction from the customer feedback we get when jobs are completed. The memorials and services we supply bring happiness to so many customers, as we are providing a lasting tribute to their loved one.

customer feedback

We take pride in our personal service, engaging with customers at their homes, or wherever else they may feel comfortable, so we can get to know and understand their requirements. In providing two memorials for a lady’s husband and father, we engaged and allowed her to take her time in making the right choices. The result was two kerbed memorials and on completion we received a lovely message form the customer which said ” Absolutely beautiful memorials for my husband and dad, excellent service to our family so kind, caring from the very start to the finish more than a five star service and a very professional service from all the team who fitted them with utter respect. We are so pleased with everything and fully recommend Sarsfields memorials, worth every single penny as the quality of the finished kerb memorials are exceptional and everything we asked for and more! Thank you to Ursula you are a very special lady with a heart of Gold, you would make your grandfather and father so proud.”

We also take pride in receiving feedback from people who have had memorials cleaned and restored, making them look brand new. One such example this year is from the family of a lady who was buried in her parents’ grave, 38 years after the last interment. The white headstone was blackened and lettering beginning to come off. However were able to clean it and do some re-lettering and received the following response – “We can’t believe its the same headstone, the standard of the work you have carried out is exceptional and we are all so pleased. It is now a fitting memorial to a lovely aunt and sister and her parents.”

These are just two examples of the customer feedback we have received over the last year. We have been operating for 71 years. The current owner Ursula Sarsfield is the third generation to run the company and looks forward to doing so for many years to come.

Floral Grave Images

Floral grave images can add to a memorial, bringing a sense of sorrow, love and warmth to your loved one’s final resting place. They can also add brightness and colour, helping celebrate their life rather than mourn it.

floral grave images

There is no end to the number of designs for floral grave images, with some flowers having specific meanings. A rose, for example, signifies everlasting love and beauty. Two roses indicate the memorial is for a couple. Other indications of undying love are myrtles and tulips.

Peoples humility may be commemorated by violets and ferns. Ferns are also the national flower of New Zealand and may be used to show nationality too, as do New Zealand commonwealth war graves. Other flowers that are linked to nationality are thistles for Scots and shamrocks for Irish.

Buds, daisies and lilies however, are more commonly associated with children. They are more likely to represent the innocence of a child and purity. Everlasting life and rebirth is symbolised by ivy, corn, lotus and marigold. Brighter flowers, sunflowers being an example, are signs of celebrating life.

You may however not wish to have such bright or celebratory floral grave images. If you prefer a more traditional sorrowful image, then willows and wreaths are more appropriate.

floral grave images

Depending on the material of your headstone, floral grave images may be hand carved, laser etched or sandblasted. They can be the same colour as the lettering, or if you prefer to add some brightness then original colours work just as well.

Modern techniques mean that we can bespoke the image to your requirements. At Sarsfield Memorials we are able to guide you on what techniques and colours work best with different materials. If you would like to discuss floral grave images as part of a new memorial or adding to an existing one, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements.

 

 

 

Stockbridge Village War Memorial

The Tenants’ Forum at Stockbridge Village are installing a new memorial on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Stockbridge Village
Stockbridge Village celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2016. It was initially developed as Cantril Farm, part of a wider scheme to rehouse people from slum conditions in inner -city Liverpool. The name changed to Stockbridge Village in the 1980s when the land was transferred from Knowsley Council to the Stockbridge Village Trust, a non profit making private company. There was then community led refurbishment of housing and recreational areas from within, giving residents what they needed, not what external planners thought they did.
For over thirty years the Tenants Forum has taken the lead on many events in Stockbridge Village, such as the annual family Gala Day and Christmas Grotto. For the last fourteen years it has taken the the lead on the estate wide North West in Bloom project. The group actively raises funds independently to finance its activities, with the most recent big project being the memorial.
The group fundraises to finance all its activities including the cost of tin the Stockbridge Village Memorial independently. The idea for the memorial came in 2015 after the closure of St Jude’s Church. The Reverend Glyn Thompson believed that a memorial marking the fiftieth anniversary could become a focal point for community services such as Remembrance Sunday.

The Tenants Forum took up Reverend Thompson’s suggestion and originally wanted the memorial in place for November 2016. However there were some unavoidable delays and eventually it was decided to aim for the fiftieth anniversary of the Armistice.

Sarsfield Memorials has been honoured to help and the memorial is now in place next to the Neighbourhood Centre, ready to host the Remembrance Sunday commemorations on 11th November 2018 at 1045am. It contains slabs that celebrate the achievements of the living, commemorate the dead and the fiftieth anniversary of the estate. A fourth slab simply says ‘Erected by the Tenants Forum 2018.’

Headstone Safety Is Your Responsibility

Headstone safety is not something that should be taken for granted, even for relatively recent memorials. It is so easy to assume that it is only headstones from the Victorian era that will be laid flat in cemeteries, but that needn’t be the case at all.

headstone safety

A headstone before and after safety work carried out (not the blog customers)

One of Sarsfield Memorials recent orders was from a customer who was surprised that their family headstone, which was last removed and replaced in 1994, was easily movable. The customer explained that whilst replacing flowers at the grave, they steadied themselves by putting a hand on top of the headstone, only for it to slide a number of inches across the base. Only the presence of a memorial at the plot to the rear prevented it toppling over.

After contacting Sarsfield Memorials, the customer was advised that prior to the British Standard 8415 being introduced fifteen years ago, there was little regulation for headstone safety. Prior to that, the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) had set themselves certain standards to adhere to, but these were not enforceable by law. Sadly it took the death of a child in 2000 for the government to intervene and regulate the industry. This led to BS8415 in 2005, which has twice been re-evaluated since.

Nowadays, all of Merseyside’s cemeteries  will only allow masons to work in them who adhere to the regulations laid out by the Health and a Safety executives inline with BS8415. This offers reassurance to the public that their loved ones memorials will be affixed to a minimum standard. Periodic testing takes place of all headstones, with those that cannot withstand a certain force being laid flat. If this happens, then it is the responsibility of the grave owner to have the memorial re-fixed, not the local authority.

Our recent customer’s experience showed that even more memorials less than twenty years old can be unsafe. This family had only taken ownership of their family grave in the last decade so had assumed it would be properly anchored, but this had turned out not to be the case. However Sarsfield’s were able to affix the headstone to the BS8415 standard for a competitive price, leaving peace of mind that there will be no nasty surprises next time they visit the grave.

John Ryle – First Bishop of Liverpool

John Ryle, who was appointed the first Bishop of Liverpool when the diocese was created in 1880, is buried in the churchyard at All Saints Church, Childwall.

Bishop of Liverpool

Ryle was the son of a banker from Henbury, near Macclesfield in Cheshire. He was born in 1816 and went to school at Eton, then university at Oxford. After becoming seriously ill with chest problems whilst studying, he turned to God and read the Bible daily.

The illness was the first incident that sent Ryle into a career with the church and the second was his father being declared bankrupt. This ended his ambitions of becoming a Member of Parliament and he instead took holy orders, becoming a curate at the parish church in Exbury, Hampshire in 1842. The following year he transferred to Winchester and went on to have positions in Suffolk in the 1860s then, Norfolk, Cambridge and Oxford in the 1870s.

Ryle developed a reputation for giving sermons that were straightforward and fair, communicating across all classes with ease. He even developed a following in Central America, where a Reform Church was established in Mexico after reading one of his religious publications.

Although he had a progressive career with the church, there was tragedy in Ryle’s personal life. By the time he was 45 years old he had been widowed twice and had four children. In 1861 he married his third wife Henrietta, who he remained together with for 28 years until her death in 1889.

Early in 1880 Ryle was appointed as Dean of Salisbury. However almost immediately he was put forward to be the first Bishop of Liverpool after the creation of the new See. Ryle felt he was too old but Prime Minister Lord Beaconsfield dismissed his concerns, telling him he was of strong health. On 11th June that year he was formally consecrated at a ceremony in York Minister.

Image may contain: plant, grass, outdoor and nature

Ryle lived on the edge of the city centre at 19 Abercromby Square, formerly the home of a confederate supporter in the US Civil War. It had been bought by the Diocese and was as the Bishop’s Palace.

A big factor in Ryle’s appointment was his ability to speak in a language and tone that all classes could understand. This was his first appointment in a large urban area and the people of Liverpool soon took to him. He had a large frame and exuded an air of authority, but he was also softly spoken and saw his role as ensuring moral principles were adhered to. He soon set about organising the construction of churches across the city so that the message could be taken out to the people. He also called for local clergy to have more of an active role in the development of church policies.

As the 19th Century drew to a close Ryle began to suffer healthwise. His assistant, Bishop Royston, undertook his public engagements and it was announced that Ryle would formally retire on 1st March 1900. He moved to Lowestoft in Suffolk where he died three months later on 10th June. He was then interred at Childwall alongside his wife.

 

 

 

 

Sarsfield Memorials Liverpool – Home Visits

Sarsfield Memorials is Liverpool’s longest running family run memorial mason business, operating since 1947. Most of our work comes through personal recommendation and repeat orders, and we believe that our policy of coming to you for the initial discussion on your requirements is a key reason for this.

Liverpool Memorial Masons Home Visits

We do not believe in the hard sell. We feel that you coming to our workshop to view samples only puts you under pressure to leave once an order has been placed. Choosing  a memorial for your loved one’s grave is a decision that will affect your family for generations. As such you need to make it at your pace and when you are comfortable doing so.

At Sarsfield we know that you will most likely be far more comfortable choosing the right memorial in the comfort of your own home. Sat in your favourite armchair with a cup of tea, you’ll be able to browse through our brochure, view inscription samples and  ask any questions without feeling any pressure. If you can come to a decision then, we can provide a written quote within 48 hours but if you need more time to think or consult others, then you can contact us when you are ready.

Our experience shows that customers can understand far better what their memorial requirements are in a place where they are at ease, not in a workshop or sales office. However, we don’t limit visits to the home. We are happy to come and see you wherever is convenient for you. If you are more settled in your local pub, coffee shop, community centre or even your workplace, we will see you there. If these locations make you feel more relaxed and allow others involved in the selection process to meet us too, then we are happy to come there.

Perhaps the most unusual place we have seen somebody in recent months was their local travel agents where they were booking a holiday. Their thinking was once the memorial was sorted, they then knew how much was left over for a break (or perhaps it was the other way around!). We have also met a family in a car park with a view of the River Mersey because this was where they used to sit in the car with a picnic, watching the boats on the river and sharing their memories.

The simple message from Sarsfield Memorials is that wherever you are within thirty miles of Liverpool city centre, we will come and see you. If you would like to arrange a visit please contact us.